Cover art for Tarcher first edition of The Earth Will Shake, courtesy John Merritt. The cover artist is Terry Lamb.
I think if I had to pick a favorite in the "Historical Illuminatus" books I might have to choose The Widow's Son, although I also really like The Earth Will Shake. I discovered via Twitter that RAW fan and Philip K. Dick expert Ted Hand says The Earth Will Shake is his favorite RAW novel. The Twitter discussion began when Ted sent out a Tweet promoting the new The Earth Will Shake discussion group:
Ted Hand: Online reading group from my favorite Robert Anton Wilson novel. Thanks @jacksontom
Tom Jackson: Any chance you can give me a few words on why it's your favorite?
Ted Hand: I think it's his best realized novel in the classic sense, a bildungsroman that creates a believable character and development process but brilliantly and economically uses this to present a theory of freemasonic initiation. More readable than Eco, more real than Dan Brown.
Tom Jackson: Thanks, Ted.
Ted Hand: Always! I think it's significant that he was able to pull off such a successful "straight" novel, his other trilogies being so experimental and Widow's Son getting back into that territory.
Tom Jackson: "Masks of the Illuminati" also plays it relatively straight, and I like that one, too.
Ted Hand: Good point, Masks is pretty close to straight, just some stream of consciousness, and also a very successful modernist novel that presents a theory of magic without neglecting the business of unraveling a ripping yarn.